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Pulse OF THE City

By D Magazine |

Trial By Whom?



Illiterates, malcontents and felons- could these be a jury of your peers?

THE JURY HAD BEEN IMPANELED, sworn in-a day’s worth of testimony heard. The case was complicated, emotional-the parents of a Richardson teenager were suing the parents of a Richardson gang member who had been involved in the murder of their son. Before the second day of trial, one of the jurors presented the judge with a note: “To whom it may concern. Felipe does not understand English. He has no idea what is happening…he feels he cannot serve as a juror.” The judge excused the man.

A Denton County jury went so far as to convict former Carrollton City Council member Mark Hall of interfering with child custody before one juror revealed he did not read English.

Courthouse denizens say that in the past two years, they ’ ve seen more jurors like these: people who can’t speak English, who can’t read or write, who are convicted felons-who somehow get lost on the way to the courthouse. Then there’s the story of the female juror in a criminal trial who simply didn’t return for the second day of testimony. When a sheriff’s deputy found her, she explained that she just didn’t find the trial that interesting, so she stayed home.

Since the state Legislature changed the system of jury selection to draw potential jurors from those with drivers licenses as well as registered voters and property owners, critics say these kinds of problems have increased dramatically. The idea was a noble one: to increase jury diversity, but since it was implemented in 1994, it has become harder and more costly to impanel qualified jurors.

The bottom line may be plain old civic pride. “A lot of people summoned by drivers licenses are less conscientious and less likely to take the responsibility of service as seriously as registered voters,” says Judge Harold Entz.

Currently, 51 percent of the names now in the county jury pool come from drivers licenses: 49 percent from voter registration rolls. Donna Roach, Dallas County jury services manager, says that using drivers licenses increases the number of people with felony convictions and non-citizens and thus drops the “yield”-the number of jurors summoned who are eligible to serve.

In 1994, the yield for Dallas County was 40 percent; that dropped to 23 percent in 1996. In 1993, the county summoned 278,310 potential jurors. To handle about the same number of jury trials in 1996, Dallas had to summon 500,000. which also sent printing costs soaring.

The conventional wisdom is that those from the driver’s-license pool are more sympathetic to the defense-the change was pushed by defense attorneys-and another dramatic change has been an increase in acquittals and hung juries.

Judge Entz agrees. “Right now, prosecutors and defense attorneys don’t know what a jury’s going to do.”

A bill to eliminate felons and out-of-county residents from the drivers-license jury database is currently being considered by the Legislature. But while Senate Bill 231 may help save the county money, it can’t legislate civic pride. “When you have a license system, you get a more ethnically diverse group and that’s positive,” says Judge Keith Dean. “But you also get those folks who just don’t care.”

-Glenna Whitley

The Perils of LeAnn



From out of the “Blue,” manager sues Grammy winner.



In 1992, Belinda and Wilbur Rimes were like any other parents of a 10-year-old girl-with one notable exception. Their 10-year-old just happened to have perfect pitch and a seven-octave vocal range that drew comparisons to Patsy Cline. No one knew how to market the little girl with the big voice-least of all LeAnn’s parents.

Enter Darrell Monroe, a one-time musician/radio deejay/promoter. Within days of meeting Wilbur Rimes, Monroe had persuaded the family to let him represent LeAnn for the six-month period beginning Dec. 2, 1992. Wilbur signed a one-page handwritten contract agreeing to pay Monroe “20 percent of the gross paid LeAnn” for all recordings, performances and live appearances that resulted “directly or indirectly” from Monroe’s efforts.

Four years, a major-label album and two Grammys later, Monroe is suing Wilbur Rimes and LeAnn Rimes Entertainment Inc. for breach of contract. Monroe claims he is responsible for introducing LeAnn to Bill Mack, the WBAP-AM deejay and composer who wrote “Blue,” the title song on her breakthrough album. Monroe believes the introduction launched Le Ann’s career and gives him the right to 20 percent of her earnings for all times.

But Dallas entertainment lawyer Ladd Hirsch, who represents the Rimes family, sees the lawsuit as a frivolous attempt to cash in on the fame of a rising star. “Monroe is trying to exploit LeAnn’s success.” Wilbur terminated the management contract at the end of the initial six months, maintains Hirsch. even before he became aware of the song “Blue.”

Wilbur Rimes says the only revenues LeAnn received while Monroe managed his daughter’s career were from the public appearances she had engaged in before she met Monroe (i.e., singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Dallas Cowboys games). Wilbur points out that since 1990, Monroe has never managed any entertainment client other than LeAnn. Says Wilbur, “I was a pretty gullible guy then.”

The Rimes family does acknowledge that for six months, Monroe drove around the state and tried to get LeAnn’s tape played on country music stations. But what about the Bill Mack introduction? Wilbur denies it ever happened and Mack himself is a bit hazy on details. “I’ve been told that Monroe says he sent the tape to the radio station,” says Mack. “I meet so many people that I can’t say I never met him.”

Even if Monroe proves he made the introduction, it would be a rare court that would allow a child to pay such a high price for a father’s naivete-even a child as talented as LeAnn Rimes.-Kimberly Goad

1O BEST EXCUSES TO AVOID JURY SERVICE IN DALLAS COUNTY



1. Judge Manny Alvarez, Criminal District Court No. 4: “A woman once said to me that her breast implant had just busted. I couldn’t really tell if it had. I looked at her, smiled and said, ’You’re dismissed.’”

2. Judge Mike Keasler, 291st Judicial District Court: “My favorite, one guy tells me, ’I’m just a rotten moral character.’”

3. Jury Services Personnel in Central Jury Room: “A woman writes, ’I hereby request exemption from jury service….If you make me come, I will stand up in the courtroom, pull down my pants….! might even squat down and pee right there on the floor. How would the judge like that?’ “

4. Judge John Marshall, 14th Judicial District Court: “A woman came up to me and said, ’I am prejudiced against the system because my son is in the tiary doing a life sentence for murder.’ And I said, ’Let me ask you a question: Did he do it?’ And she replied, ’Yes, but that doesn’t mean I have to like ft.’”

5. Judge John Cruezot, Criminal District Court No. S: “A woman told me she just had her foot removed. I looked down and there it was. I told her to go home.’”

6. Judge Keith Dean, 265th Judicial District Court: “One guy told me that because he listens to that shock jock Howard Stern, he thinks he has ruined his moral character.’”

7. Jury Service Personnel again: “This summons for jury service will create a great hardship for me and I would like to be excused for the following reasons: I have a diabetic cat that has to be fed at 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM daily….I can’t leave her alone with my veterinarian because she will not eat.’”

8. Judge Marshall again: “…Then there was the woman who said she should be exempt from jury service because she was a doctor’s wife. I told her that excuse would only work if her husband was being tried for medical malpractice.’”

9. Judge Cruezot again: “A man told me, ’I’m just prejudiced against everyone.’”

10. Judge Phil Barker, County Criminal Court No 6: “This man claimed, ’I’m depressed and on medication.’ So I just told him, ’This is America. Everyone’s depressed, only the lucky ones are on medication.’ “

D PICKS “HATE THAT NAME” CONTEST WINNER…SORT OF

A contest to rename the Metroplex. Terrific idea-or so we thought, hi one bold stroke, we could rid ourselves of that miserable moniker and rechristen the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area that we call home. Wrong. Call it karmic payback, a creative black hole or an idea whose time has yet to come, but the results are in and they are less than stellar. Interesting yes, comical, you bet, but with the lofty purpose of retooling an entire geo-cultural entity, the 35-plus entrants had a daunting task before them. Nevertheless, as promised, we picked a winner. Before you either run out and re-name your carwash or condemn us for our foolishness, please consider some of our other options:

ENTRIES FELL INTO FIVE BASIC CATEGORIES:



CATEGORY 1: Names that contained either the words Tex, plex or some combination thereof: HappiTex, Texaplex, The Texas Nexus



CATEGORY 2: Names that contained the word star The Lone Star Complex, Twin Stars



CATEGORY 3: Names that contained the word big: The Big Howdy, The Big Huge, The Big Cow (sentimental favorite of 0 staffers because, as its author Ronnie Wilson noted, it combines Big D with Cowtown )



CATEGORY 4: Names that contained some hybrid version of DFW: Dal-Worth, Da-Fo, The Greater DDfWW



CATEGORY 5: Names that defied categorization: City of Desire, Silicon Crty, The Egg, Dalleria



AND THE WINNER IS: The Star Cities by Mary Rademacher, who drew her inspiration, she says, from the Dallas Stars, the Lone Star State and the star on the Dallas Cowboys helmet. Mary will be a guest of D Magazine for an exciting dinner for four at Nana Grill high atop the Wyndham Anatole Hotel with its panoramic view of the Metroplex. (Sorry, Mary.)

Murder, They Wrote

Local writers race to nab hot area crime stories.

THERE IS SOMETHING 11 about murder in Texas that gives it a larger- than-death-quality, a made-for-TV movie feel. 1 Where else are the stakes as high, the cops as omery, the villains as intriguing as Cullen Davis, Candace Montgomery, Richard Lyon? Nowhere but Texas. And North Texas at that.

Thanks to the likes of Darlie Routier and the alleged killer ^J cadets, Dallas is continuing its rich tradition of offering the best in true crime entertainment. Regional as well as national writers have descended on the city, vying for book contracts, movie deals and subsidiary rights. But the true-crime market just ain’t what it used to be, and any fledgling author intent on chasing down the murder du jour should think twice about joining the rat race.

To date, the Routier murder leads the pack with three true-crime books, one being penned by Fort Worth author Barbara Davis, another by Dallas writer Pat Springer. A third book is being written by Colorado author Don Davis, whose take on the case appears in this month’s D (“Why Darin Believes Darlie”).

Dallas novelist A.W. Gray has just put the finishing touches on his book The Cadet Murder Case even before a jury has heard a scintilla of evidence in the trial. New Yorker Peter Meyer better hurry if he expects anyone to read his version of the same story. Already on the stands are three other paperbacks on local crimes: Born Bad, the story of the murder of an Ellis County 13-year-old, The Eyeball Killer by Dallas cop John Mathews and Morning News reporter Christine Wicker, and No Remorse, the chilling tale of Fort Worth serial killer Kenneth McDuff.

Despite this recent spree of local true-crime books, gone I are the glory days of the genre, when a Tommy Thompson could take two years to write a best-seller that laid open the mind of a criminal and paid the author a six-figure advance. “The publishers killed the goose,” says veteran Dallas true-crime writer Carlton Stowers. “They put out a glut of true-crime books that were just not very good. All that’s left is a paperback market of high-profile cases.”

Speed is now what counts in the rapid-turnaround, take-it-from-the-headlines world of the quickie true-crime book. “We don’t need a conviction or a trial before we publish,” says St. Martins Press editor Charles Spicer. “The story of an investigation and an arrest is enough to create an interesting story.” His publishing house has had enormous success with Texas murders, but it’s “the topicality of fast moving events” that causes him to pony up quick advances to his stable of writers.

The cadet murder case took on a life of its own, netting a cover story in People and Texas Monthly, a made-for-TV movie (as yet unseen here), articles in Newsweek and Time, and at least two hurried book contracts from Dutton and St. Martins. “The average turnaround time for our authors is about three months,” says editor Spicer. “The first book out is generally the most successful, even if it’s not always the best.”

This places tremendous pressure on writers. “I don’t write my books from the headlines,” says author Barbara Davis. “But Dutton wants my book on Darlie yesterday.”

Although local true-crime writers keep the pace of an accountant in tax season, although their advances barely cover their expenses, although their books have the shelf-life of grapefruit, they shouldn’t despair. This is Texas. At least they’ll never be out of work. -M.D.

Fact Check

CONCEALED HANDGUNS, TEXAS-STYLE:

Total number of handgun permits issued in Texas: 117.533

Number of licenses Issued to Dallas ZIP codes: 5772

Number of licenses issued to Fort Worth ZIP codes: 4546

Chances a concealed handgun permit holder is a white male: 3 In 4

Chances a concealed handgun permit holder Is a woman: 1 in 5

Fee for a concealed handgun license: $140

For a senior citizen: $70

For a district attorney: $0

Number of permit applicants age 80 and older: 648

Number of applicants of age 94:1

Number of applicants of age 1:1

Number of permit holders arrested for being intoxicated: 47

Number of licenses revoked: 19

Stores advertising handgun training in the Dallas phone book: 17

Handgun of choice in Dallas County: 9mm semi-automatic Glock

SOURCES DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY STATISTICS AS OF FEBRUARY 1997, POLL OF DALLAS GUN STORES. GREATER DALLAS YELLOW PAGES.

Parting Shots at Laura Miller

(from those who know and loathe her)

The Dallas Observer’s prized reporter, Laura Miller, recently announced she is taking a hiatus from the tabloid. For a year-she says–she’ll lay off writing the raw, slash-and-bum exposés that have made her famous and feared. This news shocked (or relieved) several people who have felt the sting of her pen, and made them eager (or scared) to participate in our survey that asked, “What should Laura Miller do next?”

IN THE ADVICE-READILY-AVAILABLE CATEGORY…

City Councilman Chris Luna: “Try her hand at nonfiction.”

Roy Bode, former Dallas Times Herald editor: “Be the ethics and morals trainer for the Dallas Cowboys.”

Justice of the Peace Thomas Jones: “See the movie Liar, Liar.”

Sandy Kress, former Dallas School Board president: “Write a treatise entitled ’What I Would Do if I Were in Charge’ and take it on the lecture tour.”

IN THE I FEAR RETALIATION/NO-COMMENT CATEGORY…

Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk: Didn’t answer our fax.

Businessman Ray Hunt: “No comment.”

County Judge Lee Jackson: “She’s a good friend. I have to claim conflict of interest.”

Dallas Morning News managing editor Stuart Wilk “Is this for real?…I’d better not say.”

Former County Commissioner Chris Semos: “I’ll pass on that.”

City Councilman Paul Fielding’s assistant: “I really don’t think he’ll be getting back to you.”

John Wiley Price: Wouldn’t return phone calls.

IN THE NO-WAY-THAT’S-GONNA-HAPPEN CATEGORY…

City Councilman AI Lipscomb: “Attend my church. It wouldn’t be jocular, but it’d be refreshing.”

Steve Bartlett: “Manage Dallas’ new arena.”

Husband, State Rep. Steve Wolens: “Consider not coming back for another five years. How’s that for an answer?”

Y ESTE RDAY

Black Cloud on Election Day

Forty years ago this month, at 4:27 p.m. on Election Day, April 2, 1957, the funnel of a gigantic black cloud bore down on southwest Dallas at the intersection of State Highway 67 and Ledbetter Road. The relentless twister splintered homes, scrambled bricks and uprooted trees as it ripped through the normally peaceful residential sections of Oak Cliff.

The terrifying onslaught, described by one shell-shocked witness as sounding like “a thousand freight trains,” continued its slow path of destruction to the industrial district along West Commerce, where it tossed delivery trucks like Tonka toys, then leapfrogged theTrinity River and carved its own landing strip from Harry Hines to theedge of Love Field.

The 46-minute nightmare left 10 people dead, 200 injured and 800 with damaged homes or businesses.

Television cameramen filmed the unforgettable 46 minutes of devastation for the evening news, making it the best documented tornado in history.

The tornado’s impact on the election became the subject of heated debate. Because the polling places affected by the storm valiantly finished the day with flashlights and candles burning, victorious mayoral candidate R.L. Thornton claimed it had no effect on the election results. The only Citizen Charter Association candidate who did not win outright was Calvert Collins running as Mrs. Carr P. Collins Jr., who had to face a runoff to become Dallas’ first female council member.

Everyone else who lost blamed the tornado.

-Tom Peeler

COURTHOUSE CAPE

From the Law Offices of Brian Loncar:

HELP WANTED



THE FOLLOWING ARE EXCERPTS FROM pleadings filed on behalf of Tara Felmly against her former boss, Brian Loncar, a personal injury lawyer whose crass TV ad campaign has him driving a tank, blowing up cars, and sounding the battle cry: “I’ll fight for you!” Although Loncar settled this claim for an undisclosed amount, another lawsuit involving claims of sexual harassment is still pending against him.

To the Honorable Judge of said court: Plaintiff Tara Felmly, complains of defendants Brian Loncar, and Brian Loncar P.C. dlbla Loncar & Associates and for causes of action shows as follows….



III. Background

On or about Nov. 25, 1995. plaintiff began her employment at Brian Loncar, P. C. She held the position of comptroller/office manager. This was the first time that plantiff ever worked for a law firm.

At Loncar’s request, plaintiff was told on several occasions to take money from the client trust account and use it to pay for various expenses of either Loncar or Brian Loncar. P.C…. She expressed concern to Loncar about this. Loncar told plaintiff that if she did not take money from the trust account, he would find someone that would. On one occasion, Loncar threatened to withhold all law firm employee paychecks if she did not take money from the trust account. Loncar reminded plaintiff he “owned her.”… Loncar also told plaintiff he was the reason her baby had food in her mouth. Loncar told plaintiff that he would place the blame for the trust account problem on a previous employee. This is not the first time that Loncar had directed an employee to wrongfully take money from the trust account….

During plaintiffs employment, Loncar would repeatedly scream obscenities at her, refer to her in vulgar terms and threaten both her and her family’s livelihood. Loncar also referred to other females in obscene ways…

Loncar repeatedly talked about his sex life…

Loncar told plaintiff who she could sleep with in the office. When a receptionist was needed, Loncar told plaintiff to hire a cute Hispanic girl with big fits who he could “bone” if his marriage went sour. He specifically told her not to hire any “niggers.”

…When plaintiff’s child was admitted to the hospital, she missed a day of work. Loncar threatened to fire plaint iff for this.

On some days, Loncar would confine plaintiff to her office or “hole” as he called it. On more than one occasion, Loncar told plaintiff not to come out of her hole unless she had “to eat or piss.” He told plaintiff not to speak to any other employees.

On or about March I, /996, plaintiff was constructively discharged from her employment. Loncar told plaintiff that if she said anything about the money taken from the trust account that she would suffer criminal prosecution. After plaintiff’s employment ceased, Loncar told plaintiff’s husband that if plaintiff filed any suit or charges against him that he would “send her down the river” and take everything plaintiff and her husband owned….

Loncar told plaintiff that no one would believe her if she took her case to trial. He reminded plaintiff that he was smart, had charisma,and can ” lay it on thick.” He also told plaintiff that he loved her.

FOR THE RECORD



THE COUNCILMONK:



“While I took a vow of chastity and obedience, I did not expect to take a vow of poverty.”



-Chris Luna, commenting on his decision not to seek re-eleclion to the City Council.



HARMONIC DIVERGENCE:



“This is a tear in the fabric of time and space, the portal between the Summer of Love and the Nowhere ’90s. The trip master was able to maintain a stable flux for a time, but we’re losing the connection.”



-Tony Rodrigues’s cosmic lament about his plans to shin down his All-Beatles radio station on Feb. 22.



CLUELESS IN WASHINGTON:



“I did not want anything from the White House. I didn’t want to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom. I did not want coffee with Billy Boy.”



-Dallas investor William R. Morgan. claiming thai he had no motive for offering $5 million to the Clinton campaign other than to reduce his tax burden. Political contributions are not tax-deductible.



COMES THE REVOLUTION:



“I’m not ready to establish nothing with them as long as they are talking this racist rhetoric.”



-Black Panther Party leader Bobby Seale. denouncing the actions of Dallas’ New Black Panther Party. Seale, formerly of Dallas. is the author of a book on barbecuing.



BREAKING GROUND FOR THE POLITICAL CORRECT:



“Please do not refer to race fans as bubbas or rednecks… The use of the term ’bubba’ or ’redneck’ can be construed as a racial epithet.”



-Eddie Gossage. general manager of the Texas Motor Speedway, criticizing Fort Worth City Council member Jim Lane for referring to patrons of the mechanical ans as “bubbas.”



THE PUCK STOPS HERE:



“I went to a hockey game last night and a school board meeting broke out.”



-Quip of radio caller to The Ticket, the all-sports radio station al KTKT-AM 1310.